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Community Conversations: The IDEA Project for Adults!
March 28 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Dear community members,
Have you heard of the IDEA Project, which visits all Tahoma schools and many others throughout the state to help students learn about one another’s differences? Ever wanted to hear more and experience the program yourself? Here’s your chance! The Greater Maple Valley Community Center and Maple Valley Lions Club partnered to invite Allison Bureau of the IDEA Project to speak to the adults of our community, to share her knowledge and so that we can experience the hands-on part of the program.
The IDEA Project is an in-school curriculum that directly addresses the need to create empathy among students, understanding of their peers with disabilities, and promote school cultures of inclusion across all students. In schools, the IDEA Project’s disability awareness program kicks off with a group assembly by grade-level, followed by individual activity stations, all of which are tailored to meet the developmental stage and grade level of the students. The program introduces students to the idea of differences, and what it is actually like to have different abilities.
The IDEA Project works to address the need for disability awareness and inclusion education for our students across the state of Washington. We know that this is a critical need because of the rise of bullying of students with disabilities, and lack of educational programs to teach empathy and inclusion. Students with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be bullied than their typically developing peers. Many students with disabilities are already addressing challenges in an academic environment, when they are bullied on top of that, it can directly impact their education. This bullying has been shown to negatively impact a child’s access to education, and lead to school avoidance and absenteeism, decrease in grades, inability to concentrate, show a loss of interest in academic achievement, and lead to an increase in dropout rates. There’s good news, more than 50% of bullying situation stop when a peer intervenes. Peer advocacy – students speaking out on behalf of others – is a unique approach that empowers students to protect those targeted by bullying. Peer advocacy works for two reasons. First, students are more likely than adults to see what is happening with their peers and peer influence is powerful. Second, a student telling someone to stop bullying has much more impact than an adult giving the same advice. With that said, the power of educating students about our differences and disabilities helps students to understand others and their differences, which leads to more empathy of others. Everyone likes to feel understood and accepted and kids are no different.
Over the past five years, The IDEA Project has conducted this program 41 times in 32 different schools across 16 different school districts. As a result, this program has impacted over 23,200 students who have directly participated in our program. To date we’ve seen tremendous success where we’ve implemented our programs, including increased empathy, a decrease in bullying, and an increase in acceptance.
The Maple Valley Centennial Lions Club will be sponsoring The IDEA Project’s program on Thursday, March 28th from 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the Greater Maple Valley Community Center. Please come join us to find out more about The IDEA Project!